Isaac’s 21 leads FSU past Wolfpack
By Joe Reedy
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has been overshadowed a bit when it comes to discussing who the top freshman is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. On Wednesday night he took his place in the spotlight.
Isaac led the 14th-ranked Seminoles with 21 points as they defeated North Carolina State 95-71.
The 6-foot-10 forward, who had only two points in last Sunday’s 48-point win over Clemson, scored the first seven points as FSU (21-4, 9-3) led throughout. It is his third game of 20 points or more this season.
“This game I feel like I came out a little more aggressive and my teammates found me early. It makes the game a lot easier and gets the nerves out of the way,” Isaac said.
Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton added that Isaac is more of a student of the game, which sometimes overshadows his ability to score.
“Tonight he got into a nice flow there early. He was extremely confident and got us off to a good start,” Hamilton said.
N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr., who is considered the favorite for Freshman of the Year, matched a season-low with eight points and was held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.
“They had a great scheme to get the ball out of my hand early. That threw off the flow of our offense,” Smith said. “We still have to make plays when they double me. It’s 4-on-3 when the ball is out of my hands.”
N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said he was pleased with the Wolfpack’s (14-11, 3-9) shot selection — they were 28 of 60 from the field — but thought the difference in the game was inside. The Seminoles had a 49-25 edge in rebounds, including 21 on the offensive end, and outscored the Wolfpack 48-28 in the paint. Ten of Florida State’s two-point baskets were either a dunk or tip-in.
“Today they just whipped us on the glass,” Gottfried said. “They’ve got length and depth, especially at the perimeter.”
Dwayne Bacon added 19 points and Michael Ojo had 11 for FSU, which has won 18 straight at home and at one point led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
Terry Henderson led the Wolfpack with 17 points while Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu added 16 apiece.
N.C. State: With losses in five of their last six games, the Wolfpack are in danger of playing on the first day of the conference tournament for the second straight season.
Florida State: After road losses to Georgia Tech and Syracuse two weeks ago, FSU has won its last three games by an average margin of 30 points. However, four of their last six games are on the road.
Bacon has scored in double figures in 34 straight games, which is the longest in program history since Alton Lee Gipson in 1984-85. It is also the longest current streak in the ACC.
N.C.State was missing senior center BeeJay Anya, who did not make the trip due to a “coach’s decision.” Sophomore forward Shaun Kirk also did not play due to the school’s concussion protocol.
HE SAID IT
“I wanted to take a challenge tonight. He’s one of the top scorers in our league. We had a solid defensive effort tonight,” Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes said of guarding Smith, who came into the game fifth in the conference in scoring and averaging 19.2 points per game.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack are at Wake Forest on Saturday. The Demon Deacons won the first meeting 93-88 on Jan. 21.
Florida State: The Seminoles travel to Notre Dame on Saturday. FSU beat the Fighting Irish 83-80 on Jan. 18.
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